OK, it’s a bit of an oversimplification, but only a little – you can sum up all social network activity as an attempt to answer two questions: “Where are you?” and “What are you doing?” Connecting, sharing, yadda yadda ya…
We want to know what the people important to us are up to and where everything is going down. Pure and simple. And location is increasingly more important to a social network’s relevance. Make it easy for people to answer these two questions as an app developer, and you are on the right track.
…or GoldenTrail. GoldenTrail is a location-oriented messaging and meetup app based out of Singapore. Send private, custom messages to a group; track movement and activity – all on a map that immediately lets everyone know where everyone is at. With family in mind especially, this app lets relatives stay in touch and helps keep closer tabs on the elderly.
Founder Nicholas Ooi tells us more:
What’s your company about? What do you do? Who are your customers?
We are an app/web development company based in Singapore. We are now focusing on an app known as GoldenTrail, which helps families, the elderly, friends and society connect, message and meetup easily with their smartphones. (Some of our customers in our development portfolio – MINDEF, MOL, Property Propnex group, Singapore Police Force and many others in Singapore.)
What’s the greatest thing about your company/website? Why is it better than the competition?
We believe our product is innovative, targeting a different group of people, and has different features from our competitors in Singapore and possibly South East Asia. We do hope to reach out more to families, elderly, and friends worldwide.
What was your first computer? How old were you when you first got on the world-wide web?
Windows 95, a small PC, at the age of 7. Got hooked on the world-wide web when I was 15 years old.
GoldenTrail Founder Nicholas Ooi with Clinton Chee
What time do you usually start work each day? How many hours a day do you usually work?
I start my work at 8am, usually putting in about 15 hours of work a day or more.
When’s the last time you went on vacation and where did you go?
December 2013. I went to Australia, Sydney.
What’s the very first thing you do at work every day?
Look at my phone for any messages, emails, and news – seek out possible collaboration, partnership, feedbacks, family groups, etc. I use LinkedIn constantly to improve our credibility and connect with people.
When do your best ideas come to you?
They just happen when they happen. There isn’t really a fixed situation when an idea pops up for me.
How many people did you start the company with and how many people work for you now?
I started alone in 2009. Since 2012, it’s [GoldenTrail is] a legal private limited entity in Singapore with 4 people.
A lot of people have big ideas. What gave you the confidence to actually go after yours?
Support from my teammate first and brainstorming for ideas to ensure that people accept the idea. Usually, if you can get your teammates to buy the idea, it’s almost certain customers would also buy the idea. Passion is also the key factor to building up confidence.
Remember the early days of starting up? Describe the struggles you went through.
Getting the first customer or user was the greatest challenge for us. Pivoting the idea and getting the team quickly structured is also a struggle.
How do you handle frustration? What has been your biggest professional frustration?
Marketing has been our greatest frustration (but we do believe KillerStartups could assist us, spreading out our story!). Hold up your strong beliefs in your company. Look back at your vision and statement where it all started.
What’s your office environment like? Do you listen to music? Watch movies? Play video games?
We have a home office, so we work when we need to and relax what we have to with ease. We are looking at setting up an office, but it would not be any time soon as it’s not yet necessary for us.
How do you picture your company in 5 years?
Reaching each out to many families, elderly, and friends. Looking for more avenues to research and develop greater products. Empowering people using IT. Building a safe and connected society both in Singapore and worldwide.
Who or what inspires YOU? Role models? Quotes? Running? Video games? Snack food?
When I started the company solo in 2009, I did not have a role model or inspiration, just the thought of earning pocket money – learning and understanding how my skills could help me in the future. I started when I was still waiting for school enrollment. Only after discovering my path was entrepreneurship [did I recognize] my true inspiration was Steve Job and Bill Gates.
How’d you fund this venture?
Self-funded by our team and with a grant from Ngee Ann Polytechnic School and SPRING Singapore. SPRING is a government funding enterprise in Singapore, which helps fund Singapore companies.
Got any great bootstrapping tips for the lean startups out there?
Form your “A” team, make sure your teammates brainstorm the idea with you. Ensure everyone agrees that people will use, try, or buy it.
What other advice do you have for other entrepreneurs struggling to get started?
Stop over-planning. Start working on the product or service. Form an “A” team really fast. It all boils down to your starting team. This raises lots of questions – Why will they want to commit themselves to the company? Why would they want to put their time and investment in the company? What persuades them? If they buy you, so will a customer. They must believe in it and believe together with you, which is why the “A” team should be formed from the beginning.
What would you do if you had a year off and $500,000 to spend (on something other than work)?
I would save 60% in case of bad times, give 10% to really needy people, 10% to my family, employees, supporters and friends (perhaps gifts, gatherings, or networking events). The remaining 20% would perhaps go toward leisure, technology gadgets, food, vacation, events basically to make new friends.
Top 5 websites you couldn’t live without and why?
- Gmail – emails.
- Yahoo – daily news for what’s happening in Singapore.
- Facebook – to see friends sharing posts and for the company’s social media performance.
- TechInAsia – to see other interesting startups in Asia.
- TechCrunch – to see other exciting startups worldwide.
Top mobile apps you’re in love with and why?
- Gmail – emails! The most important of them all.
- LinkedIn – for future collaboration and to improve the team credibility of the company. GoldenTrail – our own location messaging meetup app, usually for us to meetup for a lunch meeting and to send messages between one another.
- WhatsApp – an alternative to our app in case some of our friends have yet to discover and convert!
What is your music streaming player of choice, and what are you listening to right now?
I love listening all sorts of music. EDM (electronic dance music) is my favorite. It just gives me motivation to keep working harder, while at the same time I feel happy from that adrenaline rush. Listening to David Guetta, “Titanium” (feat. Sia).
Number 1 country you’ve always wanted to visit but haven’t yet? (And why that country?)
Argentina! Their fantastic soccer player Lionel Messi, which I have been following since he was 22 years old. I saw his talent and had this feeling that he would be a great soccer player! I surfed the web, too, and Argentina looks like really a nice place to have a vacation. Especially for the climate and the skiing resort!
Three people (other than you) we should follow on Twitter and why?
Although I’m not extremely active in Twitter, but I do read. You could follow:
- Seth Godin – he’s a fantastic person with great marketing and entrepreneurial vision.
- Michio Kaku – for his vision of what science and technology can bring in the future.
- Lee Hsien Loong – our prime minister in Singapore, to understand what is happening in Singapore and how he is helping.
Where else can our readers find you online?